Daily D – Acts 17:16-17
While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was deeply troubled by all the idols he saw everywhere in the city. He went to the synagogue to reason with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and he spoke daily in the public square to all who happened to be there. ACTS 17:16-17 (NLT)
Cities are best experienced at eye level. Walking the streets opens those eyes to realities our imaginations never considered and news reports never show. There you get a better feel for the ebb and flow of life, the energy, or lack of it, propelling and compelling life as it is.
It took walking through downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada to realize most of the tall buildings are residences and not businesses. This helps account for all the Tim Horton’s locations and their cousins from the USA, Starbucks.
Walking around San Diego, modern car culture streets and highways yield to prior century’s missions and barrios. From Old Town’s traditional cuisine with its life-changing mole, a short train ride leads to Little Italy and Philippi’s. From there the tracks run to the convention center, the Tin Fish, Petco Park, and the Gaslight District.
Midtown Manhattan is a short walk from Central Park and the soon-to-depart Teddy Roosevelt statue, Hell’s Kitchen, Greenwich Village, the Alphabet Streets, Times Square, and on and on. An early morning stroll a couple of summers ago was devoid of charm. Everything and everyone bore the look of exhaustion and boredom. Or maybe that was just me.
Maracaibo demonstrates the blessings of capitalism and the bane of socialism in stark contrast side by side. Gasoline for five cents? No problem! Tip the starving man who pumps the fuel? Essential.
Hanoi is a sensory experience all its own. The sights, the smells, the traffic disorient a person upon full immersion. London is a city full of nice, orderly rules filled with lots of people who do not mind glancing at you with irritation when you do not follow those nice, orderly—and often unwritten—rules.
Consider Paul in Athens. The last two stops on his trip, Thessalonica and Berea, included hasty departures after decidedly mixed results. He had to leave Berea without his companions and wandered alone for days through Athens, the cradle of democracy and the bastion of philosophical genius. He initiated relationships with those with whom he shared natural affinity. His next circle of relationships included God-fearing, but not yet Christian, Gentiles. His next circle included businessmen and women like himself in the marketplace. His next circle included the debating societies and the elite thinkers of the day.
Let us pause our world tour for a moment and think about something. If you want to change the world, you have to go to the world. Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are not where world change takes place. Eye-level engagement is required for significant shifts.
A well-known business guru wrote years ago about Management By Walking Around (MBWA). Upon reading that book, I turned those initials into a different slogan: Ministry By Walking Around. Serving in a small town at the time, I took walks around town, dined at the Dairy Queen and the Ranch House, stopped in at the pharmacy, said hello to some bank employees, and visited an insurance agent friend.
A professor and friend taught me how to prayer walk. Everywhere we go, we can do just that. Aberdeen and Edinburgh? Yes. London and Vancouver? Yes. Hanoi and Maracaibo and Caracas? Yes, yes, and yes. Point, Nocona, Baytown, and Fort Worth? Affirmative.
Where will you walk today? How will that corner of the world look through our Father’s eyes? What will he empower you to see? How will you talk to him about that? How can you join him in what he is doing to transform that little corner into a little more heaven on earth? Who will you see? Who will you talk to? How will you serve to the glory of God and the improvement of life in that place?
Take a hike. Take Jesus with you. Take in all he wants to show you. Join your hands and heart with his in building a better world.
I will walk with Jesus.
Our Father, old gospel songs say you walk with us and talk with us. May that become ever more true beginning today. Go with us into every thought, every discussion, every encounter, every meeting. May we know you and experience you at every moment. May we see what you see and serve at your direction. Use us to build a better world in the places you take us. Amen.
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2 Corinthians 3:17, 18 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
1 Corinthians 10:23, 24 “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.